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Hands on: Sony HMZ-T1 Personal 3D Viewer

We go hands-on, or should that be heads-on, with this mind-bending 3D headset.

Headset displays bring to mind early virtual-reality technlogy, Hollywood’s Lawnmower Man, and gut-wrenchingly poor attempts at head-tracking. The headtracking has long been abandoned, but many smaller companies never gave up on the video headset idea, now Sony are showing everyone how to do it properly with the HMZ-T1.

Full support for 3D movies and gaming is the headline here. But it’s the two 0.7in OLED displays, one if front of each eye, that really make the HMZ-T1 special. Those tiny OLED displays each has a 1,280×720 resolution, so there’s no shortage of detail in images. Furthermore the superfast response times of OLED keeps the picture rock-steady, not forgetting that blacks on OLED are truly black.

Sony HMZ-T1 Personal 3D Viewer press

On top of all that you have the 3D support. Previous headsets failed to fool our brains that we were looking at a big screen, or better still, were immersed into the content. Adding 3D, if you have the content, removes this problem entirely. There’s no gimmick or glasses here to split the image from one display to two eyes. Instead you really have one image per eye, so no crosstalk and no frame rate or resolution reduction (excepting the fact the OLEDs aren’t Full HD to start with).

With the 3D so convincing, you’re no longer thinking whether you’re looking at a big screen far away, or a small one close up. Instead you’re just marvelling at the level of immersion the headset creates.

Sony HMZ-T1 Personal 3D Viewer inside

The best case scenario occurred when the headset was linked up to one of Sony’s new Full HD camcorders, and a Sony staff member filmed us in 3D while wearing the headset. Watching a circular pan, HD video of your own head in real-time and full 3D is a pretty bizarre and mind-blowing experience. Replaying, reliving almost, your own 3D home movies and playing 3D games seem to be the killer apps for such this headset. Audio is pretty impressive too, with pseudo-surround sound being provided by an onboard processor.

There are still the usual problems of course, we’d want to spend a lot longer with the headset to check how comfortable it is before considering buying one. And then there’s the price, at around £800 on launch in Novemeber this is a very expensive display – especially given that only one person can watch it at a time.

Still its more object of desire than oddity or gimmick, and that alone is a huge step forward for video headsets.

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